Born on this date: DeWitt Jennings in 1879; Dorothy Stickney in 1896; Jocelyn Lee in 1902; Helene Costello in 1906; Helen Trenholme in 1911; Judy Holliday in 1921; Jane Russell in 1921; and Joan Tetzel in 1921.
All links lead to each actor's IMDb page, set to open in a new tab.
Classic Movie Daily subscribers will find images of DeWitt Jennings, Jocelyn Lee, Helene Costello, and Jane Russell inside today's email.
TCM TV Alerts through tomorrow at 7 am:
These titles play on TCM's US schedule and all quoted times are for my own local Eastern time zone.
—10:15 am - Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941), the one where Andy (Mickey Rooney) leaves Carvel behind to find work in New York. Meets up with Betsy (Judy Garland) there. I stopped my Hardy family series before reaching this one, but you can find other Hardy-related posts here.
—2:15 pm - Father of the Bride (1950). I seem to giggle at Spencer Tracy throughout this entire movie. Love it when he has a few too many drinks. Sequel Father's Little Dividend (1951) plays right after it beginning at 4:00 pm.
—5:45 pm - Life With Father (1947), quiet movie that grows on me with repeated viewings. Very glad that William Powell gets to add this to his credits. I love his '30s films, but this helps show off his versatility. With Irene Dunne.
—10:00 pm - Show Boat (1936), more Irene Dunne, this time over a period of years in the rousing classic musical best known for Paul Robeson's singing "Old Man River." Also with Helen Morgan. Nice work from Charles Winninger as Dunne's father. As I've mentioned before, I prefer Dunne acting to singing, but I found her voice more tolerable here than I usually do.
—Monday morning, toss aside your TCM Now Playing Guide as the channel preempts originally scheduled programming to pay tribute to Christopher Lee, who died two weeks ago at age 93. The day begins with Hammer's The Mummy (1959) at 6:15 am ... I'll list the rest in tomorrow's issue of the Daily.
Sometimes I find myself a little letdown by the Hammer horror, but that's usually because their poster art is so fantastic that no movie could live up to it! I really do enjoy just about anything I see from them though. My favorite horror movies remain the Universal releases from the early '30s, but when it comes to sequels and overall output, I lean Hammer.
—I'm putting off that flash review for today, I got too deep into the Helen book last night (more following). Instead I've included a teaser ad in this issue for the next full review coming to the site.
—I haven't forgotten my brand new policy of including some extra images at the bottom of this post, it's just I haven't had any that fit the last couple of days. But when we get a day that I have leftover images, either screen captures or movie cards, I will stick them at the bottom. If I have larger images, like photos or postcards, they will continue to appear separately in your email, down below.
—Up to 25% off on all items in my eBay Store (25% on most items, in fact) through late Tuesday night. Click here to view items currently on sale in my eBay Store.
—Did I mention biography is hard? I've written several biographies on the site, and a few of those run rather long. I turned my Freddie Bartholomew post into an eBook just for that reason, though that is mostly a more polished version of the post on the site. When I wrote about Helen Twelvetrees I saw the potential for more, which is why I began thinking this would be a relatively simple project that would have been done—months ago!
You see, I considered my original post about Helen my first draft. Wrong! Too much missing. Inaccuracies by omission. Rather than a first draft, what I really had was a very bare outline.
Tonight I expected to write about the period from the birth of Helen's son to her departure for Australia. Basically 1932-35. Nope. Just as she was about to give birth I scrolled back to double check an earlier piece of information and realized that I forgot to mention that she'd gotten married again. Whoops! Minor mistake, I would have caught it immediately upon first rewrite, but I couldn't stand not fixing it right away in the current draft.
Figured it'd take me a couple of minutes to do so. Even with a minor snafu that caused a second wedding, it's a pretty straightforward story. I had all of the information in my huge color-coded file, but just to make absolute sure I did a quick search of Newspapers.com to pull up the original wire stories and make sure I hadn't overlooked anything when I first transcribed notes into my file.
I hadn't. Not on the original wire reports. But then I bumped into a nice juicy article from the Santa Cruz News that I hadn't seen before. This was the paper local to the marriage ceremony. It included several names and a few little details I had somehow not yet encountered.
And so the simple little paragraph led to another two-and-a-half hours of research. And counting. I passed my self-imposed 4 am to begin work on the Daily, but finally pulled myself away about a half hour later. It's probably going to be a late morning here, because after I send this I'm going right back to where I'd left off on the Helen book before any details slip my mind.
The killer part is that this new information may add two or three lines overall to that original paragraph I had planned. But it's providing some background information that I didn't have before that allows me to get to know these people, Helen and her second husband, better than I had before.
A hidden benefit of this project is that it's really showing me how to approach the next one more effectively. Sometimes I'm tempted to begin this one from scratch, but I really love what I have so far, so it's worth backtracking to verify and re-verify every little item. And the months pile up. Yes, very difficult, indeed!
See you tomorrow -
Issue count: Since going Daily on April 6, I've mailed posts to subscribers 74 out of 76 days.